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Tea-rrific Tuesday: Ginger Ginger Tea

Ginger Ginger Tea
Manufacturer: 
INTU Tea
Type: Black tea
Leaves: Long, rolled black leaves mixed with ginger pieces and calendula and sunflower petals.
Liquor: Dark brown
Aroma: Ginger.
Flavor: Ginger with pleasant black tea flavors as well.
Body: Rich and sharp – in a nice way.
Caffeine Level: Low
Brewing Time: 3-5 minutes
Brewing Temperature: 212° F
Sold As: Loose leaf tea
Where To Buy: INTU Tea (I purchase mine at her stall at Eastern Market in Detroit.)
Rating: fivestar

I frequent a farmer’s market where INTU teas are sold and the proprietor, Mary Jones, is one of the nicest people I’ve ever met. She is extremely pleasant and very helpful when it comes to selecting the perfect tea to suit your tastes. Her selection is fantastic and her teas have always been amazing. I’ve yet to drink one that I’d rate below four stars! But this is one of my favorites and one I probably would have overlooked if Ms. Jones wasn’t so enthusiastic about it and offered me a sample on a very, very cold winter day. And on those cold days in the building the market is in, tea is a welcome addition to my day. Ginger Ginger tea is rich and spicy with very strong notes of ginger. While I love that, it might be too much for some. Ms. Jones recommends brewing it with hot apple cider instead of water and that is one of the most delicious things I’ve had!

But, as it’s no longer chilly here in the frigid north, I decided to try it iced instead. And it was just as great! Iced teas are an abomination to some but I think I’m going to spend a lot of my summer trying out my favorites and seeing how well they hold up to being iced!

Do you have a favorite summer tea? I’d love to hear about it!

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The Secret Dead by S.W. Fairbrother

The Secret Dead
Author: S.W. Fairbrother
Publisher: Self Published
Genre: Paranormal, Urban Fantasy
Sources: Author
Purchase: Amazon
Rating: fivestar

Vivia Brisk knows about the dead. She should. She’s died enough times. 

Vivia is a hag – or death witch – one of the last of her race, and can die, visit the underworld and return at will. As a consultant with charity The Lipscombe Trust, she has a job she loves — helping London’s most vulnerable supernaturals, even if her colleague Malcolm drives her round the bend on a daily basis. 

Vivia thinks she’s got Malcolm’s measure – sexist, not too bright and generally a pain in the ass, but then Malcolm zombifies and, along with his fourteen year old son Ben, flees the police. 

With a zombie on the loose, London goes into lock down and Vivia is roped in into find them. After all, Malcolm can only keep control so long without fresh flesh, and the risk of the zompocalypse increases the longer he’s on the lam. 

At first what happened seems simple, but then the police find decades-old corpses hidden near Malcolm’s house, and Vivia begins to realise Malcolm’s missing son is in a lot more danger than from just a single zombie on the loose…

Disclaimer: I received this book from the author in exchange for a review. This does not affect my review and the following is my honest opinion.

I’m not going to beat around the bush with this review: The Secret Dead is flat out amazing! Phenomenal even. S.W. Fairbrother has crafted a rich, interesting world over the modern city of London with such skill and talent that it sucks you right in! From the first page I was immersed in a London where street weasels and shifters were everyday and common. Where the police have the supernatural on staff and, while it might rub a few people the wrong way, they’re valued members of the force. The way the paranormal is so artfully woven with the mundane in the London of The Secret Dead is incredible. S.W. Fairbrother writes so beautifully and so well that it’s hard to believe this is the first in the Vivia Brisk series. Honestly, the storytelling in this book is beyond great!

I was riveted to the page, on the edge and worried for the characters who so easily slipped their way into my heart. Each time I learned another of their secrets I was even more invested and, quite happily so, left wanting to know more. S.W. Fairbrother not only built an immersive, exciting world but populated it with engaging, interesting characters. There’s something so believable, so human, about them all (even the ones that aren’t quite human) that they really came to life in my mind. I have so many questions and was given just the right amount of answers to leave me hungry for the next book. Which, to me, is the show of a truly remarkable author. If I’m sitting there stunned after finishing a book and my heart twisting in remorse for having finished, I know I’ve read something great. And I love this book. Seriously I cannot stop talking about it to everyone I meet. I’ve found one of my new favorite authors and I cannot wait for more! I fear I might be infected after reading this book! I may as well be a zombie from the pages of The Secret Dead with the way I’m going to mindlessly shamble about, waiting for the next installment!

If you like exciting paranormal mysteries with a strong, intriguing heroine, this book is for you. If you like paranormal detective work and a world filled with shapeshifters and undead and trolls and so many other fantastical beings, this book is for you. If you like worlds just this side of safe from a zombie apocalypse, this book is for you.

If you have a pulse, this book is for you. It’s so amazing I’d be shocked if someone didn’t like it.

Interested? You can find out more about The Secret Dead and it’s amazing author on the following sites:
Twitter
Facebook
S.W. Fairbrother’s site
Goodreads
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Throwback Thursday: The Princess Bride

Throwback Thursdays is a chance for me to share some of my older favorites. Hopefully they’ll earn a place on someone else’s To Read list from it. 🙂


The Princess Bride

Author: William Goldman
Genre(s): Classic, Young Adult, Humor, Fantasy, Romance
Purchase: Amazon

A tale of true love and high adventure, pirates, princesses, giants, miracles, fencing, and a frightening assortment of wild beasts – The Princess Bride is a modern storytelling classic.

As Florin and Guilder teeter on the verge of war, the reluctant Princess Buttercup is devastated by the loss of her true love, kidnapped by a mercenary and his henchmen, rescued by a pirate, forced to marry Prince Humperdinck, and rescued once again by the very crew who absconded with her in the first place. In the course of this dazzling adventure, she’ll meet Vizzini – the criminal philosopher who’ll do anything for a bag of gold; Fezzik – the gentle giant; Inigo – the Spaniard whose steel thirsts for revenge; and Count Rugen – the evil mastermind behind it all. Foiling all their plans and jumping into their stories is Westley, Princess Buttercup’s one true love and a very good friend of a very dangerous pirate.

Have you read this book? Have you seen the movie based off it? If you haven’t close this window and go do so immediately. The Princess Bride is a charming, hilarious tale that stands the test of time. It’s a fabulous adventure story with romantic elements (without being gushy or graphic), exciting conflicts, and sass in spades. The movie was a very good adaptation and if you don’t have the time to read the book, it’s well worth the 98 minutes you’d spend watching.

 

Musical Monday: Devils Don’t Fly by Natalia Kills

Musical Monday is a meme that I have no doubt is done elsewhere as well. As I am not yet making a meme or providing links to other participants, consider it a personal one for the moment.

 

Devils Don’t Fly
Artist: Natalia Kills
Album: Trouble
Where To Listen/Buy: nataliakills.com / iTunes

I’m kind of in love with this album. Devils Don’t Fly played on one of my Pandora stations a few weeks ago and I can’t stop listening to Trouble since. Natalia Kills blends interesting lyrics with catchy beats that I can’t get out of my head. If I could wear out my iPhone playing this song it’d have broke long ago.

The Bloodline War by Tracy Tappan

The Bloodline War
Series: The Community
Author: Tracy Tappan
Publisher: B. Reed Publishing
Genre: Paranormal Romance
Sources: Author
Purchase: Amazon
Rating: fivestar

A car accident changes everything for Dr. Toni Parthen. Her computer hacked hospital blood test confirms she’s the carrier of a gene that’s the key to salvation for a unique race of human beings. Abducted from her hospital room to a secret, underground community, Toni is asked to do the unthinkable: procreate with a man from a race called Varcolac-a species that must consume the blood of other humans to survive. Then bizarre turns dangerous, because a new, mysterious enemy also wants her special DNA, and Toni finds herself in the middle of an all-out war to possess her. It’s the job of Jacken Brun, leader of the Warrior Class, to keep the captured women safe from a demonic race of humans who rule a neighboring part of their underground world. His challenges multiply when Toni inflames the women into mutiny, and then there’s his biggest problem…his growing desire for the infuriating woman herself. Afflicted with a dark genetic makeup, Jacken can never be with a woman. Until Toni uses her scientific ingenuity to find a way for her and Jacken to be together. But then the new enemy faction unearths Toni and drags her to their hidden lair, where they’ll inflict an unspeakable cruelty on her to gain access to her valuable genes. It will take every warrior skill Jacken owns to save the woman he loves, but only if he can find her in time…

Disclaimer: I received this book from the author as part of a R2R in the Lovers of Paranormal Goodreads group. This doesn’t affect my review and the following is my honest opinion.

Wow, where to start with this one! I’m still a little overwhelmed by how fantastic The Bloodline War was From the very beginning I was captivated by the rich lore and world that Tracy Tappan created. Right off the bat the reader is introduced to one of my new favorite romance heroines, Toni. A doctor of hematology, she occasionally works on crime scenes and from the start I felt that she was a little different than most heroines. Toni wasn’t one to take nonsense from . And I mean anyone. Even when she’s in great duress or tough men are trying to intimidate her, she doesn’t just sit there and take it. I loved that about her and it was one of the many endearing qualities the book had.

Toni wasn’t the only vibrant character in The Bloodline War either. Tracy Tappan created a cast of characters that are interesting, dynamic, and relatable. Even when I disagreed with what they were doing (as I did with some of the Warriors as well as the antagonists) I understood why they were up to, in my opinion, no good. Oftentimes it’s so easy to loathe a character that doesn’t do as the reader wishes and I’ve found, more often than not, it’s because we have so little understanding of their motivations. This is hardly the case in The Bloodline War. The characters, even the antagonists, have very clear reasons for what they do and while I despised some of them (Looking at you, Raymond.) I couldn’t help but understand.

Not only are they interesting and exciting, many of the characters are funny – and not in a bad way whatsoever! (I never thought Jaċken would be funny and I love that he was!) I didn’t go into the book expecting humor but I found myself laughing as often as I was cursing out the bad guys. Tracy Tappan does some amazing dialogue which I think speaks volumes about her skill as a writer. Flat dialogue can kill the most brilliant of ideas and lovingly crafted worlds but The Bloodline War has no shortage of witty banter and engaging conversations between the characters. A few of the characters are foreign and their vocabulary and speech patterns really made that believable. I was very impressed with how well they were done! I’ve read a few other books where characters with accents or from another country are just so over the top or poorly done that it’s really jarring to read. Tracy Tappan handled them flawlessly, weaving together both thoughts and speech that left me knowing the character was from another place but not struggling to understand them.

The Bloodline War has quickly become a new favorite of mine. It was gritty and full of action which, while I’m not normally big on, the scenes were so well done I couldn’t help but be pulled into the world. And the fact that the story was told from several different points of view was very satisfying. I wasn’t expecting to get to see so much of the other characters and I loved it! I am the oddball who loves side characters as much as the main ones and getting to know them, to know what was going on with them, was just what I needed to make this one of my favorites.

I highly recommend this book. It recently won the Bronze Medal for romance from the prestigious Independent Publishers Book Awards (IPPY) and, in my opinion, it deserved gold. 

Throwback Thursday: Dragons of Autumn Twilight

Throwback Thursdays is a chance for me to share some of my older favorites. Hopefully they’ll earn a place on someone else’s To Read list from it. 🙂


Dragons of Autumn Twilight

Author: Margaret Weis and Tracy Hickman
Genre(s): Fantasy
Purchase: Amazon

Life-long friends, they went their separate ways. Now they are together again, though each other holds secrets from the the others in his heart. They speak of a world shadowed with rumors of war. They speak of tales with strange monsters, creatures of myth, creatures of legend. They do not speak of their secrets. Not then. Not until a chanced encounter with a beautiful, sorrowful woman, who bears a magical crystal staff draws the companions deeper into the shadow forever changing their lives and shaping the fate of the world.

No one expected them to heroes.

Least of all themselves.

This year is the 30th anniversary of the start of one of my favorite fandoms: Dragonlance! I’ll never forget when I started reading Dragonlance books. I was twelve and my cousin loaned me the book while we were on vacation at her parent’s cottage. The weather was gorgeous and the cottage right on the beach but I couldn’t pull my nose out of the book until I was finished. When I got my preteen hands on a battered copy of Dragons of Autumn Twilight I took my first step into Krynn and deep into the fantasy genre.

For the next decade I rarely read a book that wasn’t fantasy and I place firm blame (and ridiculous amounts of gratitude) on Dragons of Autumn Twilight for that. And when that same cousin and I found a box of Dragonlance books in the dusty backroom of the used bookstore in the little town we vacationed in, it was Christmas in July! We had both reread the Chronicles series twice by then and were anxious to devour the titles that had taunted us from the first page of Dragons of Autumn Twilight. Mind you, this was in the dark ages before anything but dial up internet (and not everyone even had that) and eBooks. Back before Amazon and internet retailers being able to deliver your desired reading material to your front door in two days.

It was miserable. But finding that stack of musty treasured books and meeting the Companions for the first time? Those are memories I will always treasure just as I will always love this book for being such a large part of my youth. From the cover art (I love you Larry Elmore. Always.) to each chapter of characters I will always love, Dragons of Autumn Twilight left an impression on me that I’ll never shake. And I’m ever grateful for it.

 

 

 

Tea-rrific Tuesday: Caramel Almond Amaretti

Caramel Almond Amaretti
Manufacturer: 
TEAVANA
Type: Herbal tea
Leaves: A mix of candied almond bits, cinnamon, dried apple, and coconut.
Liquor: Vibrant red
Aroma: Caramel, almonds, coconut, faintly cinnamon
Flavor: Caramel and almonds with softer hints of sweet cinnamon, candied apple, coconut
Body: Rich and full
Caffeine Level: None
Brewing Time: 5-6 minutes
Brewing Temperature: 208° F
Sold As: Loose leaf tea
Where To Buy: TEAVANA (I purchased mine in their local store.)
Rating: fivestar

When I went to the mall I had no intention of buying any tea but when I saw the wall of wondrous blends at the TEAVANA store I was all but pulled inside.  The staff was very friendly and helped me narrow down two teas to try after offering me samples of a wealth of delicious teas. I almost chose another blend over this one when I was picking out my purchases. However, I am a little biased towards tea with cinnamon or caramel bases and this checks off both those boxes and won out in the end.

It was perhaps one of my best indulgent tea purchases I’ve made. What a delicious tea and a treat to drink! Caramel Almond Amaretti has a very complex flavor profile that left me wanting more when my cup was empty. (And I followed that urge with a second serving!) According to a friend of mine it smells like cupcakes and I find it hard to disagree with such a suggestion. This is a sweet, rich tea that satisfied my fondness for desserts without the crumbs or having to bake anything! (Much less the calories of a cupcake!) I can’t stop recommending it to people. Though if you prefer more earthy notes to your herbal teas or more bitter flavors this is unlikely to be the tea for you.

Throwback Thursday: The Count of Monte Cristo

Throwback Thursdays is a chance for me to share some of my older favorites. Hopefully they’ll earn a place on someone else’s To Read list from it. 🙂

The Count of Monte Cristo
Author: Alexander Dumas
Genre(s): Classic, Historical Fiction
Purchase: Amazon

Thrown in prison for a crime he has not committed, Edmond Dantes is confined to the grim fortress of If. There he learns of a great hoard of treasure hidden on the Isle of Monte Cristo and becomes determined not only to escape but to unearth the treasure and use it to plot the destruction of the three men responsible for his incarceration. A huge popular success when it was first serialized in the 1840s, Dumas was inspired by a real-life case of wrongful imprisonment when writing his epic tale of suffering and retribution.

This is likely one of my all time favorite books. It might be my actual favorite of all books out there actually. When I was in my teens I saw this movie version and was consumed by my fascination with Edmond Dantes’ quest for revenge. At the time I was just discovering how much I loved political intrigue books with the War of the Spider Queen series. And while dark elves backstabbing one another in a fantasy setting is awesome, the tale of a man who could very well be a real person exacting such vengeance on those that very much wronged him was mind boggling to my younger self. After letting the story tumble around in my mind for a few months I picked up the original version at the library. I kept renewing my time with it because after my first read through I immediately flipped back to page one to start over. The differences between the film and the dog-eared paperback I held in my hands were many but, as I’ve often found, the book was leagues better. Not that the movie was bad but its ending was too sweet, too gentle after I had seen Edmond’s revenge play out on the page.

The Count of Monte Cristo has everything I treasure in a book. There’s intrigue of political and social varieties both. Do you like adventure? Dantes seems to find himself neck deep in exciting situations as do many of the other characters. Every page holds a new wonder on it; the potential for another secret to be revealed and you may find yourself as eager as I was to learn them all.

Even years later I find myself rereading it often and thinking of it with a great fondness in between those returns to its pages. Dumas weaves an amazing story that touches on many different motivations. The characters are a joy to watch interact and leave me anxious to see their reactions to the secret webs I know are being woven. I find it impossible to imagine I’ll ever lose my soft spot for the crafty and cunning man who rose from the ashes of an innocent sailor wrongly imprisoned.

 

Tea-rrific Tuesday: Hot Cinnamon Spice

Hot Cinnamon Spice
Manufacturer: Harney & Sons
Type: Black tea with spices and fruit
Leaves: Dark brown tea leaves with chips of cinnamon bark and dried orange peel.
Liquor: A lovely medium brown with faint hints of orange.
Aroma: Spicy with notes of citrus.
Flavor: Cinnamon, orange, and sweet cloves
Body: Medium bodied with satisfying sweetness.
Caffeine Level: Caffeinated
Brewing Time: 4-5 minutes
Brewing Temperature: 212° F
Sold As: Tea bags, loose tea, sachets
Where To Buy: Harney & Sons site, though I purchased mine at Target.
Rating: fivestar

John Harney created this tea in the early 1980’s and, according to the Harney & Sons site, it is their most popular tea. After one cup I know why. This tea is amazingly delicious and one of the finest blends I’ve ever been fortunate enough to try. It is spicy with strong notes of cinnamon but also has a pleasant sweetness that is remarkably sugar free! (Making it safe for those on a no sugar diet!) The first sip was startlingly in the rich blend of cinnamon and cloves that electrified my mouth. It left my tongue tingling but the after taste was sweet and a welcome clash to the spice. This has become one of my favorite teas and one I will continue to drink for years to come.